Incoming RPI freshmen interested in learning more about the nuances of rugby, one of the world’s most preeminent international sports, had the opportunity during Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond week to learn more about the sport at Anderson Field early Wednesday morning. For those unfamiliar with the sport, players attempt to reach one end of a field without losing the ball, which is slightly large, but lighter, than a football. A major rule is that players aren’t allowed to pass the ball forward; the only way that the ball can be moved forward is by running with it or kicking it up the field. Play doesn’t end when the ball hits the ground—when in trouble, players may pass the ball backwards on the field to teammates.
Barnabe Bouchenoir ’19, one of the program’s instructors, said that his goal for the NRB activity was for students “to know the basics of the sport.” Through a series of drills, instructors taught students how to pass, kick, defend, and play a full game of rugby. The day’s activities were all about “going through basic drills and teaching them the skills they need,” according to Katy Peoples ’17, the president of RPI’s Rugby Club. Peoples added that her goal was to “give [the students] a chance to just play” and she hopes that they will come back and join the team.
Later in the day, students had the chance to exercise some of their newly acquired skills and knowledge; the group was split into six teams of 10. Each group played six games in total. Students were prohibited from tackling their opponents to ensure that everyone had a good time and that no one got injured. Peoples made it clear that the goal was to “[teach] them the fundamentals and [keep] contact out.”
According to Mateusz Sluszkiewicz ’20, a first-time rugby player, the event was “a good eye opener” and a good introduction to the sport.
For those interested in joining the team, practices are held at Anderson Field Monday from 8–10 pm, Tuesday 6–8 pm, and Thursday 8–10 pm.